Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-23
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 23/05/1997 (ANA)
- FM Pangalos to visit Albania in early June
- Greek, Turkish experts committees will present findings soon
- FM Pangalos welcomes a possible Burns posting to Athens
- Foreign minister to get new free operations room
- Athens bourse hits all-time high in today's trading
- Greece to revive bid to retrieve Parthenon marbles
- Greece-FYROM trade on the rise
- Gov't rejects calls to sack minister over drug comments
- Couple ambushed by armed men
- Romanian president requests Greek Parliament's support for EU,
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
FM Pangalos to visit Albania in early June
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos is to visit Albania early next month,
he announced at a press conference today. He said his visit would probably
take place on June 3, following the European Union Foreign Ministers'
Council in Brussels.
Asked whether he would meet with Albanian President Sali Berisha, the
Foreign Minister said he would be meeting with all leaders, while if
possible he would also visit Greek forces participating in the multinational
Meanwhile, commenting on press reports to the effect that Italy was
involving itself in the Albanian election campaign, Pangalos said that the
Italian Ambassador in Athens had denied such an involvement, while the
Italian envoy in Tirana had made a statement declaring that his statements
quoted in the press had been distorted.
The Foreign Minister dismissed the view that "Greek and Serbian circles"
had caused the upheaval in Albania, saying that there were no real ultra-
nationalist forces in Greece, apart from a few isolated voices.
Commenting on reports of illegal visas being issued by diplomatic staff in
Albania, Pangalos drew attention to the Ministry's limited ability to
investigate such activities.
However, he said there had been such accusations in the past but only in
two or three cases had they been specific. An investigation of the
allegations had indicated that they concerned circles outside the
The Minister defended the staff at Greece's consulates in Albania, who he
said were generally above suspicion.
"While this does not mean that some of them might not be led astray, this
could happen within any group of people, even politicians or journalists,"
Greek, Turkish experts committees will present findings soon
Greek and Turkish experts studying problems in bilateral relations are to
present their findings to the Dutch European Union presidency, possibly as
soon as Monday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told a press conference
Pangalos expressed the hope that the Turkish group's report would contain
"positive and constructive positions". He said the two groups would study
each other's reports, to be exchanged via the EU presidency.
Asked to comment on an interview with Turkish President Suleiman Demirel to
be screened on Greece's Antenna TV station tonight, in which Demirel
reportedly proposes the signing of a non-aggression pact with Greece,
"If the Turkish President's statements constitute an abandonment of the
(Turkish policy of) casus belli, this will be a very significant development."
He said, however, that if the abandonment of "casus belli" was accompanied
by conditions such as a demand that neither country did anything to
displease the other, such as Greece exercising its right to extend its
territorial waters to the 12-mile limit, then this would be a step
backwards, as it would be tantamount to asking Greece to adopt Turkey's
Pangalos noted the gravity of the situation, saying that no politician,
whether in Greece or Turkey, would want to assume the burden of a military
confrontation. He also noted a warning from the US that it would intervene
militarily to stop such a confrontation. The Foreign Minister drew
attention to both countries' commitments to a number of international
treaties obliging them to avoid military conflict.
Asked to comment on reservations expressed by Cypriot leaders over a
possible non-aggression pact between Greece and Turkey, Pangalos reiterated
that any military action by Turkey against Cyprus would be considered by
Greece as cause for war. However, he added that neither Greece nor Cyprus
should dictate policy to each other, and that Greece should not become
involved in the Cypriot election campaign.
Finally, with regard to the proposed summer moratorium on military flights
in the Aegean, the Foreign Minister reiterated that Greece was in favour of
such a move, noting that there were still certain reservations on the part
FM Pangalos welcomes a possible Burns posting to Athens
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today responded positively to reports
that State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns will be appointed ambassador
to Greece in the summer, saying he had a ''personal liking'' for the US
US administration officials said yesterday that Burns was expected to be
named ambassador to Greece in the summer, replacing Washington's present
envoy, Thomas Niles.
Meanwhile, Pangalos told a press conference this morning that he would fly
to Paris on Monday to attend an OECD ministerial meeting before travelling
on to Lisbon on Wednesday to represent Greece at the NATO foreign ministers
The agenda of the NATO meeting will focus on preparations for the Alliance
summit in Madrid in early July.
Replying to reporters' questions, Pangalos said no meetings had been
scheduled on the sidelines of the Libson meeting with Turkish Foreign
Minister Tansu Ciller or other counterparts, but did not rule out such
meetings eventually taking place.
Foreign minister to get new free operations room
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today announced major decisions
concerning the structure, organisation and operation of his ministry,
including the setting up of a modern ''operations centre'' for use in
The operations centre, Pangalos said, will be housed in the basement of the
ministry building in the centre of Athens.
He added that the cost of the centre would not burden public finances,
since the project would be paid entirely by the president of the Athens
Medical Centre, George Apostolopoulos, in the form of a donation.
Work on the centre will begin this year, Pangalos said, adding that it will
be equipped with modern telecommunications systems and operate in close
collaboration with the corresponding centre at the National Defence
Pangalos also announced changes to the entrance requirements for embassy
In addition to the present requirement of two working languages, candidates
will also have to have a basic knowledge of economics, reflecting the
emphasis which the ministry wishes to place on economic diplomacy.
Athens bourse hits all-time high in today's trading
The Athens Stock Exchange made history on Friday with the general index
breaking two records as it surpassed the previous all-time high of 1,684.31
points, set in July 5, 1990, and breached the 'psychological' barrier of 1,
700 for the first time in history.
The index closed at 1,727.70 points, up 2.60 percent, to show a total gain
of 85.08 percent since the start of the year.
The president of the Shareholders' Union, Dimitris Karagounis, told the ANA
that "the rise in share prices is not merely a temporary phenomenon, rather
it reflects the steady fall in inflation and interest rates, expectations
of high corporate profits during 1997 and the stable economic policies
pursued by the government".
He also predicted the continuation of the upward trend in the medium- and
long-term, despite temporary correction and setbacks.
Trading remained at voluminous levels and turnover reached 32.4 billion
Most sector indices scored gains, once again led by banks with an increase
of 2.65 percent. Insurances rose 1.58 percent, Investment jumped 5.18
percent, Industrials increased 1.85 percent, Holdings ended 0.68 percent
higher, Miscelleaneous rose 1.19 percent, but Leasing was unchanged and
Construction fell 0.29 percent.
The Parallel Market index ended up 0.22 percent.
Greece to revive bid to retrieve Parthenon marbles
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Parliament today that Athens
would submit a fresh request to the new British government for the return
of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.
Replying to a question tabled by a Coalition of the Left and Progress
deputy, Venizelos said the government would undertake a series of
initiatives for the return of the marbles, which were handed to Lord Elgin
by the Ottoman rulers in the early 19th century.
Venizelos said he would be sending a letter to the British government
within the next few days and on June 30 would discuss the issue with his
British counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting of European Union
''I do believe that the negative position adopted by the new British
government is final,'' Venizelos said.
Greece-FYROM trade on the rise
Trade between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
is steadily improving and is forecast to reach 300 million US dollars in
1998 from 180 million last year.
According to figures relased today by the National Statistics Service (NSS),
Greece ranks fourth in FYROM's external trade after Germany, the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and Slovenia.
The European Union is the biggest trade partner of the neighbouring
country. FYROM's exports to the EU account for 42.7 percent of total
exports, while imports from the 15-member union represent 38.7 percent.
The NSS notes that FYROM's trade with the EU is greater than with the
former Yugoslav republics, with exports to those countries accounting for
33.1 percent of the total and imports 21 percent.
Gov't rejects calls to sack minister over drug comments
The government today strongly reacted to a demand by Communist Party of
Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga for the removal of Alternate Foreign
Minister George Papandreou because of the views he expressed in favour of
the decriminilisation of marijuana use.
''Ms. Papariga and the KKE would be advised to do and speak less so that
they will be compromised less,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said,
while underlining that the positions expressed by Papandreou were his own
Papandreou said in an interview with a Greek magazine that the use of
marijuana should be decrininalised and people allowed to grow the plant for
their own personal use.
In many instances, Reppas said, politicians act as dictated by their
conscience. What is important, the spokesman added, is ''policy not
''Government policy on the issue of narcotics has a specific basis, namely
the findings of the relevant all-party committee and the issue does not
lend itself for quarrels,'' Reppas said.
The spokesman rejected criticism from Papariga that Papandreou was using
his position to promote his personal views, stressing that the minister had
expressed the same views on numerous occasions in the past.
When asked to comment on the matter, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos
underlined that Papandreou had expressed his views ''as a citizen'' and
therefore there could be no question of linking them with his remaining a
minister or not.
Pangalos also stressed that Papandreou had on many occasions in the past
expressed the same views, adding that the issue of narcotics was one of
''Personally, I feel uncomfortable when a party comes along and says 'this
is my party view'. It's a nightmare,'' Pangalos said.
Couple ambushed by armed men
An Albanian was shot dead and his wife seriously injured early today in
Markopoulo, Attica when unidentified armed men burst into the house in
which they were sleeping and opened fire.
The dead man was identified as Andreas Rapais, 37, who died instantly in a
hail of gunfire, while his wife, Suzana, 28, is being treated at the
Sismanoglio hospital in Athens.
Although shot in the spleen and suffering from knife wounds to her hands,
Suzana is believed to be out of danger.
The couple's 8-year-old child was in the house at the time of the attack
but miraculously escaped unhurt.
Romanian President requests Greek Parliament's support for EU,
Visiting Romanian President Emil Constantinescu today asked for the Greek
Parliament's assistance in Bucharest's bid to join the European Union and
NATO, during talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Constantinescu, who is on an official three-day visit to Greece, received
assurances during talks yesterday with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and
Prime Minister Costas Simitis that Athens would support Romania's efforts
to join NATO and the EU.
In his talks with Constantinescu this morning, Kaklamanis referred to the
''great possibilities'' which the two countries have to contribute towards
consolidating cooperation and peaceful co-existence in the Balkan
Commenting on the issue of security in Europe, Kaklamanis said the
continent needed a security system ''of a higher level, over and above NATO,
in which all European countries participate''.
''Merely shifting the dividing lines of the Cold War eastwards is no answer
to the problem of collective security in Europe,'' he added.
Kaklamanis accepted an invitation from Constantinescu to visit Romania at
the head of an all-party parliamentary delegation.
Today's weather will be cloudy with scattered showers in the north and over
the Aegean and Dodecanese islands. Sunny weather over the rest of the
country, with cloud developing in the afternoon, along with a slight drop
in temperature. Winds will be northerly. In Athens, the weather will be
mostly fine, with temperatures ranging from 20-32C. IN thessaloniki the
temperatures will range from 20 to 28C.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.404
Pound sterling 439.258 Cyprus pd 532.327
French franc 46.979 Swiss franc 189.720
German mark 158.174 Italian lira (100) 16.062
Yen (100) 231.414 Canadian dlr. 195.186
Australian dlr. 209.054 Irish Punt 407.434
Belgian franc 7.663 Finnish mark 52.473
Dutch guilder 140.705 Danish kr. 41.555
Swedish kr. 35.444 Norwegian kr. 38.174
Austrian sch. 22.483 Spanish peseta 1.878
Port. Escudo 1.571